For utility player, volleyball is exciting, fun

Montana Tech volleyball, like her Anaconda hometown, will like having Kirstin King around just for insurance.
King is a 5-foot-5 senior utility player on the squad. Where she will line up for the Orediggers isn’t set in stone yet, but the safe bet is it won’t be on the front row, unless she does some setting. Her prowess has been on the back row as a defender and the owner of a tough serve that is getting better as she takes on the jump style demanded by new head coach Brian Solomon.
King adapts easily athletically, thanks to growing up in a sports environment and possessing the abilities to have starred in three sports during high school. King’s prowess even landed her a spot on the Carroll Colllege women’s basketball team right out of high school.
However, she truly liked volleyball better, King said, and the move to Montana Tech brought her that much closer to her supportive and tightly knit family. She is one of four Kings currently enrolled at Montana Tech, she said.
“It was a good thing to come to Montana Tech,” King said during a break from a recent Oredigger practice in the college’s HPER Complex. “Marilyn (Tobin) gave me the opportunity, a blessing that way.”
Tobin was the Oredigger head coach at the time. Solomon succeeded her with his hiring last winter.
The opportunity was also capitalized on for educational purposes. King will graduate in December with a degree in business information technology with an emphasis in management. She will then take her place at her family’s State Farm Insurance agency in Anaconda. King has interned there and passed her agent test, so should sit right into the seat.
Her father, Mike, has the agency and her mother, Roxy, is also at the office. Mike‘s older brother, Bob, owns an agency in Missoula. Several other King relatives are in the line of work, making for a far-reaching family business, Kirstin King noted.
“I want to stay in Montana and I want to sell insurance,” she said matter-of-factly.
They probably compete. The Kings still do in sports.
“We have a family basketball tournament every Christmas,” King said. “They’ve taught me how to compete and how to be a leader, and how to be a teammate.”
She was taught so well that this year’s Orediggers voted King a co-captain, along with fellow seniors Shersteen Cline and Lacey Phelan.
King was Academic All-State all four of her years in every sport in high school and attained Frontier Academic All-Conference honors in college volleyball. She earned 10 varsity letters in high school with postseason honors in basketball, softball and volleyball. She held the school 3-point shooting record – later broken by current Montana Lady Griz Torry Hill – and was a member of the Copperheads’ state Class A championship basketball team in 2008. She was her class’ Female Athlete of the Year at Anaconda High School.
While quite skilled in her specialties, she has continued to seek more improvement.
“Brian has increased my speed on my serve,” she said of tutelage from Solomon. “I’m doing different angles and doing a jump-float serve where I start from the basketball line. It helps because of my (smaller) size. It gives me more room (for a target).”
King appreciated her time working with Tobin and easily mentions it. However, she also likes what Solomon has brought to the program from South Carolina where he coached another NAIA school, Columbia College.
“It’s good,” she said, laughing that Solomon refers to her and the other smaller players as the “littles.” “It’s a lot different system. We have more new faces that returners. It’s exciting and fun, right now.”
Solomon has a divinity degree and has spent much of the preseason looking to connect the holdovers with the new recruits in team-building activities. The first week included a trip to Georgetown Lake and other get-to-know-you activities have been on the agenda.
“We don’t go because we have to, but because we want to,” King said.
She added the new coach is supportive of the players’ academic needs, as well, and willing schedules practices and drills around the individuals’ schedules when possible. He is available to help catch the player up on drills and preparation, too, if need be, King said.
“The teachers are all supportive, good about it, too,” she added. “They want to see us succeed.”
King, now, is ready to lead a charge. A recent preseason poll saw the Frontier Conference coaches pick the Orediggers to place eighth in the league this year. It might have dismayed some, but seems to have fired King up as she embraces her captain’s duties.
“We have a lot of obstacles to overcome and being ranked eighth in the preseason means we’re taking that to mean we can just go up from there,” she said. “We’re going to change people’s minds. If people overlook us, we’ll catch them by surprise.
“You never want to underestimate an Oredigger.”
Montana Tech opens its season on Tuesday at Montana Western in a non-conference match. The Orediggers’ home opener is set for Sept. 6 against Montana Western in their first conference contest.